Afflicted by a rare, potentially fatal, condition that makes him allergic to sunlight, shy, sensitive Jacob (Zak Kilberg) works solitary nights as asecurity guard in an anonymous office block, spends his days cocooned in the safety of his almost bunker-like basement flat, obsessively painting the vibrant, remembered sunsets he can no longer witness. Lately he’s been having trouble with his appetite; no matter how much he eats, he’s never full. He’s started eating his meat rarer. Plagued by stomach pain he finds his hunger satiated when he’s driven to drink animal blood he buys from his local butcher.
One night, outside a bar, he meets the beautiful, hedonistic but troubled Mary (Maya Parish). Kindred spirits, the two are drawn to each other, enter into a tentative romance and fall in love. But as his relationship with Mary grows so does Jacob’s craving for blood, forcing him into the sleazy, twilight world of corrupt medical orderly Marcus (Jo D. Jonz) who sells packs of human blood out of the back door of the hospital. With his secret becoming harder both to conceal and to control, the brutal murder of a woman in his building brings Jacob to the attention of a suspicious police detective (Larry Cedar)…
A tight, subtle, intelligent vampire movie for grown-ups with fantastic performances from its two unknown leads, Midnight Son is the perfect antidote to the anaemic Twilight saga; a smart, sexy, moody and genuinely swooningly romantic film that doesn’t skimp on the blood and horror. Shot in cool, nocturnal blues, writer/director Scott Leberecht’s debut feature eschews shoegazing, glittery skinned emos in favour of a realistic, psychological approach to the vampire myth more akin to George A. Romero’s classic 1976 Martin than toStephanie Meyer’s oeuvre, the film refusing to overtly clarify the true nature of Jacob’s bloodlust for much of the film. Is he a vampire or just a very disturbed young man? Similarly, Jacob’s growing taste for blood is subtly juxtaposed with the damaged Mary’s drug dependency allowing the film to comment on the nature of addiction and co-dependency. As blood dealing wannabee gangsta Marcus says: “Everyone got their thing.” Whether it’s drugs, blood or love, we all need something to get us through the night.
While cult favourite Tracey Walter appears in a rare non-weirdo role as the sympathetic janitor Jacob works with, most of the cast are relative novices. As the hustling Marcus, Jonz is a silkily seductive antagonist for Jacob, their dealer/addict relationship refreshingly amusing, but the film’s true strength lies in the touchingly hesitant, naturalistic romance between Parish and Kilberg’s characters, their encounters owing more to awkwardness, embarrassment and longing than the usual Anne Rice suave Eurotrash romantic image of the vampire. As the damaged Mary, Parish makes a spiky but vulnerable heroine while Kilberg’s Jacob is charming and sensitive. Their love story captivates because of its normality and the chemistry between the two is sweet and believable.
Refreshing and understated, Midnight Son is a wistful adult romance with real bite. And not a sparkle fairy in sight.